Who from suburbs will be at State of the Union: a teacher, police chief, scientist, local activists

  • U.S. Rep. Sean Casten visits with Dieter Martin Gruen in May 2019. Gruen will be attending the State of the Union with Casten.

    U.S. Rep. Sean Casten visits with Dieter Martin Gruen in May 2019. Gruen will be attending the State of the Union with Casten. Courtesy of Anne Wick

  • Karen Battaglia, a nurse from Antioch, will be U.S. Rep. Lauren Underwood's guest for the State of the Union.

    Karen Battaglia, a nurse from Antioch, will be U.S. Rep. Lauren Underwood's guest for the State of the Union. Courtesy of Rep. Lauren Underwood

 
Daily Herald report
Posted2/3/2020 5:35 AM

Members of Congress from the suburbs are highlighting environmental issues, health care, science, education and law enforcement with their choices of guests to attend President Donald Trump's State of the Union address Tuesday at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.

Here's who will appear with the suburban representatives, all of whom are Democrats:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Sen. Tammy Duckworth

Duckworth, of Hoffman Estates, will bring Waukegan-based environmental justice advocate Celeste Flores as her guest.

Flores is the Lake County outreach director for Faith in Place, an educational and advocacy organization that helps religious and faith communities implement environmental programs, and co-chair of Clean Power Lake County, a coalition committed to local action to secure environmental, economic and racial justice.

Last April, Duckworth co-founded the Senate's first Environmental Justice Caucus to raise awareness of environmental and pollution issues that have created public health challenges, which disproportionately affect low-income communities and communities of color.

Duckworth spoke at the Faith in Place Green Team Summit in September, where Flores introduced her, and hosted a roundtable in Waukegan to discuss environmental justice.

5th District Rep. Mike Quigley

Quigley, of Chicago, has invited Chicago Alderman Matt Martin of the city's North Side 47th Ward.

Chicago Alderman Matt Martin will be U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley's guest at the State of the Union.
Chicago Alderman Matt Martin will be U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley's guest at the State of the Union.
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Quigley called the first-term alderman "an inspiring new voice" on the city council who shares his progressive values. Quigley lauded Martin for his work on equal housing, infrastructure and health care.

Before his election in April, Martin worked as a civil rights lawyer in the Illinois attorney general's office, where he helped draft the consent decree for Chicago police to change practices after the fatal shooting of Laquan McDonald.

6th District Rep. Sean Casten

Dieter Martin Gruen holds a birthday note from U.S. Rep. Casten and a Congressional Record Statement on behalf of the scientist's nomination for the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Gruen is Casten's guest to the State of the Union.
Dieter Martin Gruen holds a birthday note from U.S. Rep. Casten and a Congressional Record Statement on behalf of the scientist's nomination for the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Gruen is Casten's guest to the State of the Union. - Courtesy of Anne Wick

Casten has invited a scientist from Downers Grove as his guest for Trump's address to draw attention to climate change and other environmental issues. Dieter Gruen, 97, left Nazi Germany as a teen, worked on the Manhattan Project that developed the atomic bomb during World War II, earned degrees from Northwestern University and the University of Chicago, and became a senior scientist at Argonne National Laboratory.

Casten also has nominated the chemist for the Presidential Medal of Freedom, citing Gruen's "critical contributions to nuclear fission and fusion, solar energy, energy storage and conservation."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"In a time when science is under attack by this administration, I hope to send a message to the president: Science and facts must be at the forefront of our country," Casten said in a statement.

8th District Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi

Krishnamoorthi, of Schaumburg, has invited Parents Against Vaping E-Cigarettes Illinois advocate Ruby Johnson.

Parents Against Vaping E-Cigarettes (PAVE) Illinois advocate Ruby Johnson will be U.S. Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi's guest at the State of the Union address.
Parents Against Vaping E-Cigarettes (PAVE) Illinois advocate Ruby Johnson will be U.S. Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi's guest at the State of the Union address. - Courtesy of U.S. Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi

Johnson is the mother of a college-aged student who was hospitalized last summer for severe respiratory problems linked to vaping products. Krishnamoorthi invited her to highlight her story and the story of families across the nation who have felt the devastating impact of the youth vaping epidemic.

Johnson previously testified before Krishnamoorthi's Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy on the harm of e-cigarette usage.

"In the wake of her daughter's illness, Ruby became a champion for families across the country that are suffering from the youth vaping epidemic," Krishnamoorthi said.

9th District Rep. Jan Schakowsky

Schakowsky, of Evanston, has invited small-business advocate and entrepreneur Geraldine "Geri" Sanchez Aglipay.

Aglipay is the Midwest manager of outreach, education and policy efforts at Small Business Majority, which advocates for and provides resources to small businesses and entrepreneurs across the country.

Part of Aglipay's work is to expand access to affordable health care for small-business owners and to promote women entrepreneurs and women's business organizations.

Schakowsky said in a statement that she wants to "highlight the impact that the president's attacks on health care have on women, communities of color, and on the backbone of our economy -- small businesses.""

10th District Rep. Brad Schneider

Schneider's guest will be David Brothman, a teacher from Wheeling and social studies department chair at North Chicago High School. He was invited "in recognition of the amazing work done by our public school teachers," Schneider said.

David Brothman, a teacher from Wheeling and social studies department chair at North Chicago High School, will be U.S. Rep. Brad Schneider's guest for the State of the Union.
David Brothman, a teacher from Wheeling and social studies department chair at North Chicago High School, will be U.S. Rep. Brad Schneider's guest for the State of the Union.

"Local educators like Dr. Brothman play a vital role instilling in our young people an understanding of our constitutional system and their rights and responsibilities as Americans," said Schneider, of Deerfield.

Brothman, a former congressional intern, said attending a State of the Union has always been a dream for him. He said he'll use the experience in his classes by asking students who watch the speech to discuss what they liked and what resonated with them.

11th District Rep. Bill Foster

Aurora Police Chief Kristen Ziman will attend the address at Foster's invitation. Foster, of Naperville, has recognized Ziman as a "steadfast leader" who led the police response to the mass shooting that killed five employees of the Henry Pratt plant and injured six Aurora police officers nearly a year ago.

Aurora Police Chief Kristen Ziman will be U.S. Rep. Bill Foster's guest at the State of the Union.
Aurora Police Chief Kristen Ziman will be U.S. Rep. Bill Foster's guest at the State of the Union.

"Chief Ziman represents the selflessness of the police officers and first responders we rely on to keep our community safe, and I am proud to have her as my guest," Foster said in a statement.

Ziman has vowed "to take their memory and the stories of the men and women of the Aurora Police Department to the nation's capital." She is the first female police chief in the state's second-largest city.

14th District Rep. Lauren Underwood

Karen Battaglia, a nurse who serves as the trauma coordinator for emergency services at Northwestern Medicine McHenry, will be Underwood's guest.

Both Underwood and Battaglia have preexisting conditions they believe make them at risk for losing health insurance if the Affordable Care Act is repealed. Underwood, of Naperville, has a heart condition. Battaglia has asthma.

"Karen's story is exactly why I'm working every day to lower health care costs of Illinoisans and safeguard protections for people with preexisting conditions," Underwood said in a written statement.

Battaglia, who lives in Antioch, coordinates hospital community programs like SAFE Kids, poison prevention workshops and bicycle helmet fittings for children. She is also a member of Underwood's nursing advisory council.

• Daily Herald staff writers James Fuller, Russell Lissau, Eric Peterson, Christopher Placek and Katlyn Smith contributed to this report.

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